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Questions of Wife’s Property

* Do mitzva payments (like yizkor money, kapparos, matanos l’evyonim, etc.) or pledges to tzeddakah (like “18 shekel to Poseiach if I find my keys before I’m late for my appointment or the test results are positive”) that a wife makes fall under the category of the parnassah a husband provides for his wife or is she obligated to pay them from her own money, if she has such? If she doesn’t have, is she obligated to raise the money herself?
* Can she use the joint account to buy gifts for her children/grandchildren (birthdays, chanukah gelt, etc.) as it is used to purchase gifts for his children/grandchildren, or must she use her own money, if she has such (given equal expenditures for both sides/if her gifts are more expensive)?
* If the apartment belongs to the wife only but is jointly occupied, are maintenance costs (repairs, improvements) and mortgage/taxes to be paid by the wife only, or jointly? Must she pay for maintenance, improvements that she would not have initiated on her own behalf but only to insure the comfort of the husband, or she planned to do only a few years from now when other obligations would be paid and her money freed up? Can she charge the husband “rent” since his inhabiting the apartment precludes her being able to take in another paying boarder, and if so, what percentage of the going rate? (He has his own apartment rented out and the income, while going into the joint account, is mostly all used to pay his debts and obligations from his children’s weddings/mortgages/ongoing monthly or holidays assistance, etc while the wife pays off wedding obligations/expenses for her children from her money exclusively).

What are the halachic financial guidelines for “his/hers/ours” expenses for second marriages where the husband was mevater on his claim to his wife’s possessions?


1) A man is obligated to sustain his wife, and this will include payments such as matanos la-evyonim, which are obligations. However, for pledges and the like, which are not obligations but voluntary contributions, a husband is not obligated to pay for his wife’s pledges. Note that concerning the pledge he is able (under certain circumstances) to annul the vow by means of hafaras nedarim.

2) For small gifts, which are normal and everyday, and it is assumed that she has permission to use the joint account, there’s no problem. For larger gifts, she has to consult before buying.

3) She cannot charge rent, because he has the right to the living (income/fruit) of the apartment. However, if he has forgone any right he has to his wife’s possessions, this might mean that he loses the right to the income, and she will in principle be able to charge him rent. This depends if the foregoing was halachically valid.

I must add that the very notion of a wife charging her husband rent sounds bizarre, to say the least.

Expenses are not necessarily on one or the other. The husband has to pay for basic requirements of the apartment, because of his obligation to provide his wife with a place to live. However, he doesn’t have to pay for matters beyond basic living requirements. On the other hand, neither does the wife, and whoever wants the improvement will have to foot the bill. The most normal arrangement is certainly for joint payment (from the joint account, if there is one).

Best wishes.

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